First time Landlord-Potential Tenant does this sound like a scam?

11 Replies

I just got done showing the property. The potential tenant who came to see it shared with me the following:

The property would not be for her but for her 60 year old cousin who just had a stroke. He is no longer working and is on disability but they want him to live in this neighborhood because they have two other family members that live in the immediate area. He would not be paying the bills but his 90 year old mother, who lives several states away, would be paying all of the bills. Allegedly she is "loaded", has great credit, and owns a number of properties out of state. I was told that his mother would be willing to pay 6 months rent up front to make me feel comfortable. She also said they would look at buying the place.

I inquired as to who would be on the lease and was told it would be both the cousin and his mother. I gave her an application and asked for it to be filled out and returned for whoever would be on the lease. In addition, I informed her that I would be using Smart Move to run a background check and credit check.  


At this point there is no more action for me to take, maybe she comes back with the application maybe she doesn't. I just wanted to get some feedback on what the community thought about this story, how I should feel about the primary lessee not being a resident, if i should be weary of the offer of 6 months up front etc. Any advice or insight you could give would be appreciated, this would be my first tenant.  

I would be leery of the upfront payment, if the mother is on the lease and is subject to background check it might be okay.  Depending on where you are sometimes cartels will do things like this to have a minimal paper trail especially if you are self managing.  I think it was probably a scam and you won't get an application back.  The potential tenant is free to prove me wrong.

It definitely sounds fishy. I've had a lot of people say that they were interested in paying X months of rent in advance. It has never happened. In my experience, it's a ploy to distract from an otherwise problem application. Your mileage may vary.

@Dane DeKing - I would have the 60 year old cousin on the lease and required to make the payments. Also, I would suggest having the mother fill out a lease guaranty form. 

In your screening, run a background and credit check on the cousin AND his mother. Also ask to see a screenshot of their bank accounts to make sure they indeed are "loaded." 

Make sure they pay the 6 months rent before taking the rental off the market. 

Also be sure that you call any previous landlords.

If you're in a highly coveted area with little vacancy and you have a lot of inquiries about your place. It might be easier to decline and find someone new.

Best of luck! 

Thank you for all of your responses, sounds like it would be best to continue looking for tenants. 

In the event that an application does come back, what reasoning can I provide for rejecting the application? 

@Dane DeKing Call the 90 year old grandma ...ask her if she’s loaded wIth Income vetifIcatIon for proof and If shes okay with being in the lease . Get the cousin on the lease get the cousins sisters brother on the lease if you can . Surely this has enough red flags to warrant rejection

Never give a applicant a reason for rejecting. It is not their business to know and will only empower them to argue/debate your decision. Never give a reason.

Alternately you inform them you are still taking applications and when you find a acceptable applicant simply inform them that th eunit is no longer available.

I’d definitely pass—good possibility it’s a scam, and even if it isn’t an outright scam imagine trying to collect from a 90 year old out of state co-signer who will likely develop a severe case of “oh your honor I didn’t know.....” if there is any trouble!

@Dane DeKing I would not consider this tenant. The tenant is not going to be able to afford the rent. His mother could easily die or end up in a nursing home considering her and be unable to continue paying his rent. if he is recovering from a stroke it may not be safe for him to live alone. If they do apply either deny because of bad credit or a lack of income or tell them you decided to go with another applicant.